I wish I were Irish, and so does half of Houston, apparently, judging by the February 17 sold-out Flogging Molly concert at the House of Blues.
Flogging Molly, L.A.'s seven-person Celtic punk band, blend traditional Celtic, Irish and folk with ridiculously loud and boisterous punk music to create a sound that is super charged with energy, and last night was no anomaly. When they hit the stage, they were definitely loud.
Immediately breaking into fan favorites like "Paddy's Lament" and "Drunken Lullabies," Molly definitely knew what their fans were looking for and gave it to them by the fistful.
For almost two hours, Molly ran through their hits, including some numbers that hadn't been touched for many years, while fans crowd-surfed and attempted to Celtic-dance while simultaneously bouncing en masse. To be honest, Houston, it might be time for some lessons. I think it involves a little more than kicking your legs out wildly.
The audience fed hard off the energy from the band; beer showers and projectile objects made the concert feel at points as if I were on a Viking ship, the sea of people moving like waves as they bobbed along with "Float" and "The Lightning Storm."
Y'all pillaged and plundered that shit, Houston. I've never seen so many people get thrown out of a venue. The security at HOB was busy as hell, pushing past me at rapid speed to remove those naughty rule-breakers. I'm guessing it was because we all tried to keep up with the Irish drinking that should go along with tracks like these. Most of us didn't succeed.
Only in Houston
Sawyer Park Closes Its Doors After Four Years.
Almost from the beginning, Washington Avenue sports bar Sawyer Park was embattled. There were the allegations of racial profiling at the door; a shooting nearby in 2011; the malleable dress codes; its "doucheoisie" clientele; the partial blinding of an employee; and the people who still missed its former life as the gluttonous Pig Stand.
Last week, everyone finally got the message that it was closed after four years of business, with a sign out front thanking patrons for their years of business. An outgoing message on the club's answering machine thanked customers for the memories. The bar's closure is just another nail in the coffin for this era of Washington Avenue. Closures and changes to bars have been rampant up and down the street.
The bar on the corner of Sawyer and Washington, just a block away from Beaver's, had a beautiful view of downtown — that is, if you were lucky enough to pass inspection at the front door. That was enough to drive away many drinkers, but of course not all. It was still a hot spot, but the crowds looked sparser on some nights. Maybe it had lost its flavor, or the regulars had moved on to and back to Midtown and Upper Kirby for their freaky weekends.
The club's Twitter page has been inactive since late 2010, and its Facebook page is rather dormant. There were a host of "turnt up" party pics from the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities on Instagram and Twitter, so at least the ol' salty girl went out with a bang.
Classic Rock Corner
Robertson Stadium's Rock and Roll Past Explored.
After years of dreaming, planning and even a little begging, the University of Houston broke ground on a new on-campus football stadium this month. It's a pretty darn exciting development for the Cougars that marks the beginning of a new era of UH athletics.
The new construction also meant the end of Robertson Stadium, the well-worn art-deco facility that stood at the corner of Scott and Elgin for more than 60 years. The stadium's demolition last December was a loss for Houston history buffs. The field played host to a rich part of the city's sporting legacy. Sports weren't the stadium's only draw, however.
Robertson was also the site of some big, righteous concerts back in the stadium-rock era, a history long forgotten by most Houstonians. Bands too big for the Sam Houston Coliseum but not quite huge enough for the Astrodome packed out the place in the '70s and early '80s, with acts as eclectic as Black Sabbath and the Beach Boys gracing its stage over the years.
Bruce Kessler, the former Pace Concerts photographer who has archived a veritable treasure trove of old concert photos at RockinHouston.com, shot Pink Floyd's 1977 gig at the stadium on their "In the Flesh Tour," the dehumanizing trek that inspired much of Roger Waters's bitter outpouring on The Wall.
"I do have specific memories of most of the shows that I shot there, especially Pink Floyd in 1977, as it was raining cats and dogs," Kessler said. "The stage was high, and it was one heck of a challenge to shoot upwards while also holding an umbrella to keep the rain off the lens. That is why I have so few pictures."
Many of Pink Floyd's contemporaries enjoyed much sunnier (and no doubt hotter) weather over the years, of course. Alice Cooper played Robertson Stadium as part of KILT-FM's Houston Rocks concert on July 13, 1980, along with Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult and others. The Allman Brothers were a massive draw back in 1974, fresh off the success of "Ramblin' Man" and "Jessica." Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's epic 1974 tour featured one of the largest and most powerful portable sound systems of the era.
This Week in Beyoncé
Five Things We Learned from That Beyoncé Doc on HBO.
Life Is But a Dream, the HBO documentary about Beyoncé that was directed and produced by Beyoncé, premiered recently. Basically, our favorite homegrown diva walks us through the joys and anxieties of the last couple years of her life.
The film was hyped as an unvarnished look at Beyoncé's life, but who honestly believed that? She directed, produced and starred in the thing: We see and hear only what she wants us to. At best, it's a trumped-up episode of Making the Video. At worst, it's the exceedingly boring video diary of a beautiful control freak.
5. She hasn't forgotten her Houston roots.
The doc opens with a shot of Beyoncé's childhood home, a nice brick-and-stucco mansion in one of our city's upper-middle-class neighborhoods. She probably owns servants' quarters larger than this place today, but it's clear from the loving, lingering footage of the place that the singer sees it as the cradle in which her life and career were conceived. "That house is my foundation," she says.
4. She's got some daddy issues.
Perhaps no one has played a bigger role in Beyoncé's professional success than Mathew Knowles, and the singer has nothing but kind words for her father. Several times, she praises the music-industry knowledge and business acumen that she learned watching him operate as her manager, including the realization that politeness and success in the cutthroat world of entertainment don't always go hand in hand.
In the doc, Beyoncé carefully couches her reasoning for breaking with her father in a need to achieve total independence as a woman, an artist and a businessperson. That certainly fits in neatly with her favorite artistic themes, but it's obvious that the break has damaged her relationship with her father.
3. She always looks good. Always.
One of the most anticipated aspects of Life Is But a Dream was the prurient desire to see Beyoncé "off stage": i.e., with no makeup, no wardrobe, and maybe even a crooked weave or two. Well, there's no shortage of footage in the film of the singer barefaced, wearing sweaty workout gear or pajamas. If you were hoping to catch her looking even halfway busted in the early morning or the middle of the night, you were shit out of luck.
Whether on a boat with the wind blowing her hair; lying on the couch in her living room; or shooting a casual, confessional-style segment on her laptop, Beyoncé still looks flat-out superhumanly gorgeous.
2. She had a miscarriage.
As much as HBO hyped the behind-the-scenes, off-limits nature of the footage Beyoncé collected for this film, Life Is But a Dream didn't contain a whole hell of a lot of startling revelations. Save for one: Before Blue Ivy Carter was even a glimmer in her eye, Beyoncé suffered a miscarriage — as traumatic an event as can befall a first-time mother.
For the first time, Beyoncé opens up a bit publicly about the excitement she felt when she first heard the fetus's heartbeat in her doctor's office, only to suffer crushing pain and disappointment when that heartbeat stopped.
1. She cuts her own hair, dude.
This is a woman who probably has a team devoted to cutting her toenails, and there she is trimming her own tresses. It takes a hell of a lot of confidence for a star known for her gorgeous locks to take out the scissors and start snipping away in her dressing room.
Stuff You Should Know About
Yoko Ono Turns 80, Is Still Weird As Hell.
Yoko Ono, never one to bend to the rules of societal convention, has got this old-age shit down to a science. Screw bridge club and Metamucil; this octogenarian is putting your grandma's ideas about the twilight years to shame.
True to form, the famed conceptual artist/musician/fashion designer/philanthropist/Beatles destroyer (to a few of you, anyway) didn't spend her 80th birthday February 18 kicked back in her recliner. Spry as hell, she instead performed at the Volksbühne in Berlin.
Don't start covering your ears and eyes in a pre-emptive protest just yet. Yes, a lot of her work has been ridiculous, especially the earlier stuff. But despite some really, ahem, interesting work over the years, it seems Ono has evolved, offering up art that is more than apples with price tags and poorly landscaped crotches.
Believe it or not, Yoko and her electronic-dance remix project, ONO, have done pretty darn well, and she's also collaborated with the likes of Sonic Youth, the Pet Shop Boys and Eric Clapton, to name just a few. She's also had some successful art exhibits of late, gaining mainstream popularity with her "Wish Trees" at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and she's done well to commemorate her late husband, John Lennon, by collaborating on tributes to him across the globe.
I dig Yoko's style. At 80, my grandma couldn't work the tape player in her car, let alone design man bras or drop dance hits. As a nod to Yoko's 80 years on the planet, let's take a walk down memory lane and reminisce on some of her stranger pieces of art.
Fly film (and soundtrack!)
In a New York attic over a period of two days, Yoko and John filmed actress Virginia Lust lying naked while a fly explored her body. The couple used around 200 flies, all stunned with gas, to create the 19-minute film, which was set to Yoko's song "Fly." Rumor has it that Virginia Lust also had to be sedated.
Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins
Released by John and Yoko in 1968, this album was the result of musical experimentation during an all-nighter. It's full of Yoko's ad-lib vocals, conversation with Lennon and weird sound effects. Much to the dismay of most Beatles fans, the two knocked boots after the recording and went on to collaborate on even stranger art.
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The 1964 original featured Ono sitting onstage, draped in a long gown and daring the audience to cut away pieces until she was naked. She repeated the performance in 1965 at Carnegie Hall and in 2003 in Paris for the final time. Interestingly enough, she appears more at ease in the more recent piece than in the original.
Yoko Ono Fashions for Men 1969-2012
Inspired by the sketches Yoko drew for John as a gift for their 1969 wedding, the men's clothing line is intended to sexually objectify men. The line, which features neon-colored mesh shirts, LED lights across nipples, hands across crotches, and (very unflattering) ass-baring slacks, also has the balls to sell this junk at prices in the mid-hundreds. You can find it through the U.S. brand "Open Ceremony" if you're interested in obliterating any sex appeal you might have had.